How Jaco Van Laere, a marketer at Tengu is making data more useful with DataOps.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Jaco Van Laere: Thankfully, we’re all safe and well, it’s a challenging time, but I’ve been blessed with tremendous support from family, friends and colleagues. Thank you for asking.
Tell us about you, your career, how you joined Tengu.
Jaco Van Laere: I joined Tengu about a year ago as its marketer, I already had an interest in data and tech, but I was nowhere near as proficient in the subject as they were. The company welcomed me with open arms, and it’s been a pleasure ever since to work for the company and learn so much about the tech and science behind it, thanks to their supportive culture.
How does Tengu innovate?
Jaco Van Laere: Tengu has an innovative approach towards data management and is, to date, the only platform that can automatically generate a graph view of entire data environments. Not only that but ever since the launch of our platform, we’ve been working on adding layers of functionality so that it meets the need of every data profile, from data engineer to data analyst.
Although our main focus is the software, we also concern ourselves with building upon the rising DataOps discipline, a modern approach to data management and analytics. With a strong focus on events, we create educational content and build a community to support it.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Jaco Van Laere: We had our fair share of difficulties when the pandemic first hit. At the start, we immediately opted for working from home, even before it was mandatory, to secure our colleagues’ health and make sure they’re safe in times like these. Working fully remote and the lockdowns were a difficult change for most of us, but we’re proud of our flexibility and continuous support of everyone involved.
Secondly, due to the many changes in priorities and preoccupation with handling the new culture of working fully remote and the many changes due to lockdowns and restrictions on our everyday lives, there was little effort or interest to continue plans to (further) become data-driven) in the market. We experienced a rough patch when it came to sales, and our leads postponed many deals, hurting our revenue.
Thirdly, we experienced delays in development due to having to adjust to the changes ourselves. Nonetheless, we’re proud to say that, even with a minor delay, we were able to launch our platform and continue working on further updates on the safety of our homes. Sadly our celebration had to be postponed until the threat of the further spread of the virus was manageable.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Jaco Van Laere: At some point, we had to make cuts due to the revenue loss as mentioned above, we had to say goodbye to some of our colleagues, some had to be put on temporary leave and some more permanently. This was a difficult time for us.
How did you overcome these struggles?
Jaco Van Laere: Nevertheless, we saw that despite the bad news, everyone kept going and did their part to get us out of trouble and help the company stay afloat. This was also when we worked very hard on applying for a grant to help us stabilize, and through this hard work, we were able to acquire an investment of 700,000 euros to help us grow and face the adversity of a volatile market.
What specific tools, software and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Jaco Van Laere: To successfully work from home, we relied on digital communication through Slack, online work moments with Google Meet and moved from working around a physical whiteboard to the digital whiteboard Miro. These tools helped us close the physical distance between us all in these lonesome times.
We doubled down on efforts to connect between us all, with extra one-on-one meetings to check up on each other and coffee moments where we could catch up on each other with non-work related stuff and play games, to make up for all the fun stuff which would typically take place at the office.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Jaco Van Laere: We don’t have many direct competitors, being a new product in a relatively new market, most of them are also complementary to our offering. So we don’t hesitate to work together often to shape the early DataOps community together.
Your final thoughts?
Jaco Van Laere: This was a challenging year, but I daresay we persevered and got through it on top of things. Thanks to the recent grant, we’re able to support everyone working at Tengu once more, and morale is high once more.
What’s even more, we managed to release most of our development efforts from home. We’re proud of the efforts and drive of not only the development but also the entire Tengu team, even more so now that we’re about to release another major update to our DataOps orchestration platform that will suit the needs of data and business analysts.